JOURNEYS OF MALAYSIANS DOWN UNDER
Changing Perceptions through Art
IPOH MURAL ART
THE MALAYSIAN ART INDUSTRY WRITE FROM THE START
THE REEL LIFE PROPERTY: WHY AUCTION?
ISSN 2201 - 3016
9 772201 301002
ISSUE 11 OCT/NOV 2014
Editor Joyce Ng Sub Editor Josh Yu Digital Editor Stephanie Sta Maria Proof Editors Lianne Letitia Zilm, Zaw Shane, Harry Ward Accounts & Marketing Vacant! Finance & Legal Eddie Lee, Josh Yu Circulation Simon Gan Graphic Designer Summer Chen, Joyce Ng Editorial Contributors Michaela Swampillai, Ka-Jhun Lam, Huck Theng Châ€™ng, Trinity Chua, Neville de Cruz, Lianne Letitia Zilm, Erick Ng, Annie Hariharan, Denise Oh, Julian Lee Photographic Contributors Lance Vun, Eric Chiang, Josh Yu, Joyce Ng, Yonardi Sasamito, Ivy Koh, Michaela Swampillai Website Designer Effective Advisory JOM would also love to thank everyone who has helped or supported and given us encouragement over the past two years.
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ON THE COVER Hong Yi Photographed by Lance Vun
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Always. Read. This Art. I decided to come up with an acronym of ‘Art’ as I started writing this edition’s editor’s note, and instead of Googling I asked my partner what ‘Art’ stands for. He immediately answered: “Always read this”, without even knowing the purpose of the question. Hence the title above. Random background story aside, the theme of this edition is‘art’. We decided this was a fitting topic – the Malaysian Art Exhibition was held in Melbourne in October, and the Melbourne Arts Festival is happening in the same month. We were also honoured to have met the refreshing and talented Hong Yi, nicknamed Red, who just returned to Melbourne to set up her studio here. In this 11th edition, we are glad to have Red as our cover person, having first mentioned her in our pilot edition in September 2012. The two other profile stories in this edition are about a filmmaker and a writer who are not Malaysian born but have a Malaysian background. We thought it would be good to feature these profiles as they represent a journey of the next generation of migrated Malaysians. We also have a story about the Malaysian art industry, which has steadily been gaining popularity internationally over the past few years, with even a Malaysian exhibition in Melbourne for the first time last year. Following requests, suggestions and comments by readers and friends, we have reduced the number of articles this time and have filled this issue with more pictures. People say that pictures paint a thousand words, so we are letting the pictures do the talking. In this edition we have snapshots of one of Malaysia’s dearest old towns – Ipoh, where mural art has been popping up on various street corners. I also decided to ‘express’ myself ‘publicly’ by doodling my favourite ‘cutie monster’ (named by my partner) and her little flower on the right! Thank you for reading this and being with us. Here we are after a two month ‘break’ as we did not have an August and September edition due to the Mid-Autumn Lantern Festival we organised at Crown Melbourne in September. We hope this issue is worth the wait! Until next time, enjoy the beautiful Spring weather! Yours Sincerely, Joyce Ng Editor
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10 JOM’s Picks 11 ‘What’s Your Malaysian Dreams‘ board 12 Inside Malaysia and Beyond Malaysian News Recap Our News in Melbourne Mid-Autumn Lantern Festival @ Crown Ipoh Mural Art The Malaysian Art Industry 28 Community and Culture Montsalvat 30 Malaysian Tales Red Hong Yi Amy Han Matthew Salleh 42 Down to Business Property Developments & Taxes Property: Why auction? Merdeka Gala Dinner & Awards Presentation 48 Styling Life DIY Restoration Melbourne Artists’ Market Recipe: Durian Kaya Top Five Melbourne Coffee 55 Talk, Think, Laugh Kurang Manis Musings for Malaysia
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(Stuff we recommend)
WRITES MICHAELA SWAMPILLAI
Merricks General Wine Store Food, wine, and a weekend escape
Degraves street A gem in the heart of the city
Address: 3460 Frankston-Flinders Rd, Merricks Opening hours: 9am-5pm daily
Address: Degraves street, CBD Opening hours: 9am-4pm
Head to Merricks this weekend for a mix of sophistication and country at the Merricks General Wine Store, celebrating the region of the Peninsula with their modern country cuisine and locally made wines. The bistro and cellar is conveniently located just next to each other so you can do some wine tasting and pick out a wine that compliments your meal.
Degraves Street is a well-loved meeting place for Melburnians. Amid the hustle and bustle of the city, this iconic laneway is the perfect retreat from city life. Wander into the unique and carefully picked retailers specialising in artisan and antique notebooks, handmade gourmet produce, and novelty items. Degraves street is popular among the locals for lunch on weekdays and packed for brunch on weekends.
Orient Heritage Restaurant Bang for your buck breakfast
Yarra Glen Craft Market Shopping in the crisp country air
Address: 572 St Kilda Road Opening hours: Mon-Fri 6am-9.30pm, Sat-Sun 7am9.30pm
Yarra Glen Racecourse 9am - 2pm www.craftmarkets.com.au/markets/yarra-glen.aspx
Newly decorated, this colonial-styled restaurant with timeless designs is located inside a boutique hotel on St Kilda Road. Once used as a military base, this small but cosy place is sure to be a surprise and delight to any customer who happens to stumble in. The menu is short but not limited and hardly lacking in taste and quality, consisting of a fusion between eastern and western affordable cuisine. Enjoy a simple breakfast with a cuppa as the morning light creeps in, and watch the world go by.
Held every first Sunday of the month (except for the cooler months of July, August and September) Yarra Glen craft market is held at the racecourse in the picturesque Yarra Valley. At the market you will find about 300 stalls offering quality products that are hand made, home baked, freshly picked or home grown.
For other upcoming craft markets in Victoria please visit www.craftmarkets.com.au/.
Believing in Their Voice The Malaysian Students’ Council of Austrlia (MASCA), Victoria Chapter, held its fifth annual Malaysian Aspiration Summit, a conference with leaders from Malaysia, in September this year. For the first time they had an interactive board, which was entirely ‘hand made‘ including each individual letter on the board, we were told. Here are some snapshots of their hard work and their scribbles about their ‘Malaysian Dreams‘.
Malaysian News Recap ( Aug- Sept, updated on October 4) COMPILED BY JOSH YU & JOYCE NG ASSISTED BY KA-JHUN LAM
To date the remains of 42 Malaysians have been identified and brought home. One of the two victims who is yet to be identified is Siti Amirah Parawira, the 83-year-old stepgrandmother of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. Source: NBC News, Bernama
Ten charged over ‘Penang Nude Sport Games 2014’ In late May this year, a group of Malaysians and Singaporeans held a nudist gathering which they called ‘Penang Nude Sport Games 2014’ at a remote beach in Penang National Park. A video of the event has since gone viral on social media, depicting such events as nude body painting, Gangnam Style horse dancing, crab walking and a gathering around a campfire. The video obtained 190,000 views on Vimeo in a week. Following the spread of the video, a number of UMNO blogs blamed the DAP government for encouraging sexual depravity, however the Penang government later said they were not informed about the event and did not approve the event. On August 18, ten participants of the nudist event were charged in a Magistrate’s Court for causing public unrest. Six pleaded guilty and four contested the charge under Section 294(a) of the Penal Code. The six who pleaded guilty were sentenced to one month’s jail and a RM5,000 fine. Albert Yam, who produced the video, received an extra sentence of six months jail. Co-organiser and videographer Yam later wrote an open later apologising for “causing a storm” and for the embarrassment that the naturist, nudist event had caused for Malaysians. He also said that the naturists will not “do it again” and asked the state government to accept their “sincerest apologies”. Source: Malaysiakini Most remains of MH17 victims returned home A plane carrying the first remains of Malaysian victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 arrived in Kuala Lumpur on August 22, as Malaysia marked the return with a day of mourning. The flight carried the remains of 20 of the 44 Malaysian passengers, one with dual nationality, from among the 298 passengers and crew who perished when the jet crashed after it was struck by a surface-to-air missile over Ukraine, near the Russian border, on July 17. Thousands of Malaysian gathered at Dataran Merdeka on the day of national mourning and observed a minute of silence as flags flew at half-staff on the Friday morning.
MAS restructuring plan and MH370 search continues Khazanah Nasional announced a RM6 billion plan to rescue ailing Malaysia Airlines and returning it to profit within three years. The 12-point plan, titled “Rebuilding a National Icon: The MAS Recovery Plan”, will involve the formation of a new company to take over the assets and business of the old company and a cut of 30 percent, or 6,000 of its workforce. Khazanah is the strategic investment fund of the Government of Malaysia entrusted to hold and manage the commercial assets of the Government and to undertake strategic investments. Meanwhile a new underwater search phase for MH370 will soon start with the survey vessel Fugro Discovery arriving at Fremantle Port in Western Australia in early October. The new search will cover 1500 kilometres off Western Australia and is a joint effort by Australia and Malaysia costing $57 million. Source: KiniBiz, The Sun Daily, Daily Mail Australia
Kitingan also noted the over-presence of West Malaysia in the East during Malaysia Day celebrations, describing East Malaysia as a ‘colony’ of Malaya. Source: The Star, New Straits Times, Malaysiakini
Malaysians waste 8000 tonnes of food daily Malaysians waste up to 8,000 tonnes or 8 million kilogrammes of food a day, and this amount can feed six million people. Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Corporation’s chief executive officer, Ab Rahim Md Noor, said the solid waste management cost, including for discarded food, ran into billions of ringgit. “If we look at the percentage composition of food waste among the solid waste, it is the highest at 45 percent while the cost of managing solid waste in states under our supervision had reached RM1.6 billion last year,” he said. Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Corporation will be launching Mindset Transformation Programme this October to change people’s way of thinking so as not to throw away food indiscriminately. Ab Rahim said besides focusing on curbing food wastage, the programme was also aimed at making Malaysia a clean, beautiful and orderly country by 2020. Source: Bernama National Day celebrations and the East Malaysian struggle Despite the MH17 tragedy, about 400,000 people flocked Dataran Merdeka and its surrounding areas to watch the Merdeka Day parade this year, with the celebration titled ‘Here, where love begins’. Various states in Malaysia also held their own celebration for Malayan Independence Day. Miri city celebrated 51st Malaysia Day on September 16 with the participation of 40,000 people at the Grand Ceremony for Malaysia Day at Miri City Fan Recreation Park, attended by Prime Minister Najib Razak. Meanwhile at the streets adjacent to the Imperial Hotel, youngsters gathered with laser shows, dancers in 12 feet-tall robot-suits, K-Pop girls from South Korea and other local and international dance troupes and singers entertaining the crowd for a five hour countdown. Sabah decided not to hold a Merdeka countdown celebration due to the MH17 tragedy. Meanwhile the indigenous people of Sabah have called Putrajaya to remove the option of ‘yang lain-lain’ or ‘others’ on forms and want to be known simply as Malaysian. Some indigenous people, during their cultural performance in West Malaysia in conjunction with Malaysia Day, said that they are categorised as ‘others’ and do not exercise the same rights as the West Malaysians such as the right to vote. Borneo Heritage Foundation chairperson (BHF) Jeffrey
UPSR Leak 473,175 pupils from 8,384 primary schools nationwide had to re-sit their Science, Mathematics, English and Tamil papers for UPSR (Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah) when the papers were found to have been leaked. Images of the Science papers were posted on social media prior to the exam. Pupils who took the exam from September 9 – 11 had to re-sit the abovementioned papers on September 30 and October 9. To date, police have detained 30 individuals for questioning in relation to the leaked UPSR exam papers case. Among them are 8 individuals from the Malaysian Examination Board, 19 teachers, an official from the Education Ministry, an engineer and a reporter. The case was investigated under Section 8 of the Official Secrets Act. The education ministry has also suspended Examinations Syndicate chief Dr Na’imah Ishak and her deputy Dr Wan Ilias Wan Salleh over the leak. Source: Malaysian Digest, The Star, Free Malaysia Today Groups called to repeal Sedition Act In the two months since Merdeka on August 31, Malaysian authorities have arrested 20 people under the Sedition Act. Various groups and people including Malaysian Bar Council, Bersih 3.0, Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders, have called the government to repeal the Sedition Act. The Malaysian Bar will be marching in Kuala Lumpur against the Sedition Act on October 16, in the “Walk for Peace and Freedom 2014”. Among the 20 people is Dr. Azmi Sharom, a University of Malaya professor, who was charged with sedition for comments related to a political event five years ago in early September. The Sedition Act, enacted in 1948, has been used to arrest opposition leaders and lawmakers, activists, academics, students and journalists for accusations of insulting royalty, police, the government and the prime minister. Those found guilty face up to five years in prison and a fine of RM 5,000 (US$1,600). Prime Minister Najib Razak made a promise to repeal the Act before the general election last year, however it has yet to be fulfilled. Source: Malaysiakini, Malaysia Insider, Human Rights Watch
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Malaysia ranked 14 at Asian Games 2014, controversy over doping test Malaysia obtained five gold, 14 silver, 14 bronze and ranked 14 out of 45 countries this year’s Asian Games held at Incheon, South Korea. Malaysia did not however achieved eight gold as targeted this year. The five gold medals were obtained from the squash, karate and sailing categories. Our darling Nicol David obtained two medals from the squash category, becoming the single most successful Asian Games athlete with the winning of fifth gold medal. In the ‘national sport’ badminton category Malaysia obtained 4 bronzes. Meanwhile, Wushu gold medallist Tai Cheau Xuen was expelled from Asian Games after failing a doping test, where a dietary substance sibutramine was detected. Malaysia agreed to hand back the gold medal after appeal failed. Source: New Straits Times, The Star, NDTV Sports
opposition coalition”. The crisis could be traced back to ‘Kajang Move’, Kajang bi-election, early this year. It was aimed to remove Khalid Ibrahim as MB according to political analysts, and to install Anwar Ibrahim as Kajang MP. However Anwar was not eligible to do so after the prosecution won the appeal in the sodomy case involving the opposition leader and his personal aide. PKR president Dr Wan Azizah, who is also Anwar’s wife, contested the seat and won in the by-election. The new MB, Azmin Ali, was the personal secretary for Anwar Ibrahim when the latter was the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia. Azmin decided to stay with Anwar after Anwar was sacked by Dr Mohamad Mahathir, former Prime Minister. Azmin became the Deputy President of PKR before the appointment as the chief minister of the richest state in Malaysia. Source: Bernama, Malaysiakini, Malaysia Insider
Our News in Melbourne MH17 National Mourning Day in Australia
The Selangor MB (Menteri Besar) crisis After months of confusion and tension, Azmin Ali sworn in as the new Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) of the state of Selangor on September 23, replacing Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim who served as the Menteri Besar of Selangor from 2008. The Selangor MB crisis was sparked when incumbent Abdul Khalid Ibrahim refused to step down to give way to Dr Wan Azizah according to a decision reached by PKR’s leaders in July. After Khalid was sacked by Pakatan Rakyat (PKR), PKR pushed for Wan Azizah to be the new Menteri Besar who has the majority support of the Selangor state assemblypersons and also the President of PKR. The Selangor ruler has however insisted on having more than one name for the post, asking other parties in the Pakatan Rakyat coalition DAP and PAS, to do so. According to sources in Malaysiakini there were eventually three candidates for the post however the palace did not call Wan Azizah for an interview. After the palace confirmed on September 22 that Azmin would be the new MB, Wan Azizah in a statement said she “accepted the decision with an open heart”. PKR’s central leadership committee however described that as unconstitutional as it breaches Selangor constitution and parliamentary democracy. The Sultan, in a statement said, the appointment of PKR deputy president Azmin Ali as the new Selangor menteri besar came a result of “Pakatan Rakyat’s inability to agree on who would take the post”. Parliamentary opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim also indicated that there was “an acute lack of consensus on shared values between the parties in the
About 1800 attended the national mourning day on August 7 held at St Patrick Cathedral in Melbourne to remember the 298 people who perished when the Malaysia Airlines MH17 was downed by a missile over eastern Ukraine on July 17. Families of victims shed tears as they placed yellow wattleseed branches on a wreath to remember the dead. High Commission of Malaysia to Australia Datuk Zainal Abidin Ahmad recited verse 34 from the Quran’s Chapter 31 lugman at the multi-faith service. Other Malaysian representatives attended are Consul General of Malaysia to Melbourne Dato’ Mohd Rameez Yahaya and Malaysia Airlines manager here Terence Swampillai. Among attended the mourning service from Australia are Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Governor of Victoria Alex Chernov, GovernorGeneral Sir Peter Cosgrove and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. Melbourne was chosen for memorial service because 16 of the 38 Australian citizens and residents killed lived here.
Mustapa’s Trade Mission to Australia Malaysia’s International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed and his Australian counterpart
Andrew Robb co-chaired bilateral talks in Melbourne on advancing shared trade and investment interests. Bringing a high-level delegation of Malaysian businesses and trade and investment promotion agencies, Mustapa visited Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. Various talks and meetings were held including Taste of Malaysia Melbourne, where Adam Liaw, former winner of Masterchef Australia ‘instructed’ Mustapa in making a Malaysian rojak. Others events included bilateral talks and a forum with 200 corporate and professional leaders. The talks, held in Melbourne, represented the 17th biennial Joint Trade Committee meeting between Australia and Malaysia. Mustapa and Robb agreed on the importance of advancing the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement to conclusion, which would contribute to further market liberalisation and a stronger trade and investment relationship. Ministers also noted they would work together to build on existing free trade agreements to conclude a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement. Malaysia is Australia’s ninth-largest trading partner. Twoway trade in goods and services was valued at A$17.9 billion in 2013, representing a 14.7 per cent increase since 2010.
Celebrating Merdeka from Afar Malaysian students at several universities did not forget to celebrate the important national independence day. RMIT University Malaysian Association (RUMA) took an artistic approach by constructing a replica of the Petronas Twin Towers using chopsticks and fashioning a painting on canvas of the Jalur Gemilang with their handprints. The Malaysians of Melbourne University (MoMU) organised a Merdeka telematch in which station games were designed to replicate the struggles of Malaysia’s forefathers. Through friendly competitions like Protecting The Candle, Hunting For Communists and a piggyback challenge, participants were entertained while being subtly reminded of the value of independence. Monash University Malaysian Students’ Union (MUMSU) meanwhile held a colourful Merdeka Night in Clayton. More than 100 participants, many of whom were clad in traditional costumes, took part in a night of feasting. Malaysia the champion of ASEAN Games Australia 2014
Malaya and Borneo veterans commemorate their time in Malaysia Australian Malaya and Borneo veterans held their annual commemoration service on August 29 in conjunction with Malayan Independence Day. Australian war casualties who fell in Malaya and Borneo conflicts were honoured at the 48th annual wreath laying commemoration service at the Shrine of Remembrance. About 15 members of the National Malaya and Borneo Veteran Association Australia (NMBVAA) and Thomas Carr College students gathered to remember those who died during the Malayan Emergency from 1948 to 1960, and the Indonesian Confrontation from 1963-1966. The only remaining WW2 veteran in Melboure, 92 year old Allan Godfrey, was present. No Malaysian official representative was present at the commemoration this year, however a few Malaysians were present, which was a positive sign compared to previous years.
The Malaysian contingent has once again clinched the overall championship of the ASEAN Games Australia for the third time in a row with 41 medals, followed by Singapore and Indonesia with 7 medals each. Held on September 12 to 14, Sports including table tennis, badminton, tennis, basketball volleyball and ultimate Frisbee were on the schedule in a move to foster better interaction and relationships between ASEAN counterparts. The event was spearheaded by the Malaysian Students’ Council (MASCA) Victoria. Malaysian Companies Generate RM57 million in Sales at Fine Food Australia expo The 20 Malaysian companies that took part in the Fine Food Australia expo in Melbourne chalked up sales totalling RM56.8 million in mid-September this year. Among the companies that received most sales were Hernan Corporation for its durian products, SHRF Food Industries for ready-to-cook pastes and Sydney Cake House for its frozen curry puffs. The companies, that included those from non-food sectors, were housed in the Malaysian pavilion and supervised by MATRADE (Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation). About 1000 participants from 41 countries took part in the country’s largest international event for quality food. --
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September 13, 2014, Crown Riverwalk, Southbank, Melbourne
JOM Magazine, in partnership with Small World Concept, organised the first Mid-Autumn Lantern Festival @ Crown in September this year. The whole day event was filled with vibrant performances, interactive and fun games, lantern and dancing workshop, as well as 40 Asian market style stalls. At night the festival came to life with a lantern parade. The festival was sponsored by Crown Melbourne and Central Equity.
Photo above: Ribbon cutting ceremony to officiate the event, with Festival Consultant for Crown Josephine Foo (left), Chairperson of Victorian Multicultural Commission Chin Tan (middle) and Melbourne City Councillor Ken Ong (right).
Photo: Lance Vun, Josh Yu, Shane Zaw, Andrew Woo, Tamara Gunawan
More photos can be found in our album published at www.facebook.com/jommagazineaus Mid-Autumn Lantern Festival @ Crown |
Ipoh Mural Art A new nostalgic dimension to the Old Town
Most of us know or have heard about the Penang mural art scene, but what about Ipoh’s mural art? JOM’s Pam Vasu went back to Ipoh recently to be surprised by the mural art popping out around her beloved hometown. Ipoh, located in the state of Perak, has always been well known for its heritage, good food, white coffee and pretty girls. New on the ‘to visit’ list is ‘Art of Old Town‘ painted by Ernest Zacharevic, the same man who painted the famous mural art walls in Penang’s Georgetown. Here’s just some of what Pam and her friends found.
PHOTOGRAPH YONARDI SASAMITO & IVY KOH
Inside Malaysia & Beyond
For more information about where to find these mural art pieces in Ipoh, please see www.kenwooi.com/2014/07/7-ipoh-wall-art-murals.html
Anak Malaysia sculpture by Huck Theng Châ€™ng
The Malaysian Art Industry The Asian art market is currently one of the fastest growing business markets in the world, with China, Indonesia and India leading the change followed by emerging countries such as Vietnam, the Philippines, Singapore and even Myanmar. Auction houses are consistently hammering art pieces into record prices, making it hard to believe that some still consider art as nothing but a beautiful object that one should only acquire when spare cash is available. This primitive perception has long been overturned in the West where art is not only considered an important part of a growing civilisation, but is also a lucrative and exciting investment. Artworks in the West do not only adorn walls, but are also regarded as assets that are kept in the accounting books.
24 | Inside Malaysia & Beyond
The Malaysian art scene is relatively young in terms of exposure compared with its neighbouring countries. However it has undoubtedly made impressive progress over the last few years. Prices of the works of local artists have appreciated handsomely, and more experienced and young artists are being recognised by art lovers in Malaysia. There is still a long way to go before Malaysian art is accepted globally, hence the efforts by MATRADE (Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation) to promote local Malaysian modern and contemporary artworks in the hopes of gaining international recognition and acceptance through their brainchild project Arts Kuala Lumpur or Arts KL. Writes Huck Theng Châ€™ng
Works by award winning Malaysian photographer Layzhoz Yap at ‘Discover Malaysian Art 2014‘ in Melbourne
“The Malaysian art scene is relatively young in terms of exposure compared with its neighbouring countries. However it has undoubtedly made impressive progress over the last few years.” The establishment of the National Art Gallery (now known as National Visual Arts Gallery or NVAG) in 1958 by Malaysia’s first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, was the most important milestone in Malaysia’s art history. However, as it happens in almost every other developing country, art came to be considered the ‘adopted child’ in terms of priorities. Fortunately there have been some collectors and institutions collecting Malaysian art since its early days. Bank Negara Malaysia (Central Bank of Malaysia) was one of the early institutions that, through the leadership of its second governor, Tun Ismail Ali, started collecting and supporting Malaysian art since 1962. It was indeed an important step towards recognising art talents and helping the art industry but the influence then was very much limited. Many art groups and art societies were formed between the 1940s and the 1960s, but most did not survive as art was a tough profession then to be associated with. Remarkably, the oldest registered art society in Malaysia, the Penang Art Society, has not only survived, it has thrived and celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2013 and boasts a national membership of more than 400. Furthermore, the support from senior art promoters is invaluable. One of them, Dato’ Dr Tan Chee Khuan, is probably one of the heavyweights in promoting Malaysian pioneer artists since the early 1980s. He has published more than thirty books about Malaysian art and has also donated millions worth of art works to both the national and state art galleries. A person of such vision and patriotism is a rare breed.
Other art related figures are Ooi Kok Chuen and Dr Zakaria Ali, both art writers that have been consistently contributing to local art happenings and its progress through their pens for the past twenty odd years. The setting up of Petronas Gallery in 1993 provided extra avenues in the art market, and together with NVAG, both organisations have consistently collected, exhibited and supported Malaysian contemporary art. Another important Malaysian art movement was the art residency projects by both public institutions and private organisations that provided a platform for artists to excel. In 2008, art entrepreneur and collector Datuk Vincent Sim pulled his resources together and created another milestone in the Malaysian art industry by conceiving Malaysia’s very own international art exposition – Art Expo Malaysia. It was a move that initially many had brushed off as another white elephant, but Datuk Sim and son Sim Pojinn have proved the critics wrong as the show has gone from strength to strength through years of hard work. Another instrumental development in the Malaysian art front was the Malaysian government’s helping hand in making this art expo even more successful. The 1MCAT (1Malaysia Contempporary Art Tourism) programme that was initiated in 2010 was the brainchild of the Ministry of Tourism (now known as Ministry of Tourism and Culture) with the intention to promote contemporary Malaysian art as a tourism product catering to the tourists visiting the country. The Ministry of International Trade and Industry, through its exports promotion arm, MATRADE, also joined in providing support for local exhibitors in promoting their artworks at
Inside Malaysia & Beyond
local and international expositions. MATRADE Exhibition & Convention Centre (MEEC) also hosted the Art Expo Malaysia for the last few years. In 2009, prominent Malaysian real estate consultancy, Henry Butcher (HP), teamed up with Vincent Sim and started the HB Art Auction, marking the arrival of the first proper art auction house in art having an almost non-existent secondary market. KL lifestyle Art Space (KLAS), Art Masterpiece Auction and the Edge Auction in 2013 round up an unprecedented yet impressive record of four auction houses conducting more than 10 auctions annually! With positive anticipation from local art patrons and collectors, the domestic market for Malaysian contemporary art is heading for a bull run. For example, top framer Pinkguy’s gallery reported sold out exhibitions in 2013 of two artists – Suzlee Ibrahim and Huck Theng Ch’ng – within half an hour of the exhibition opening. On the other hand, important commercial art galleries, such as Valentine Willie Fine Arts, Wei Ling Gallery, Galeri Chandan and Richard Koh Fine Art, are among the Malaysian galleries that frequent regional art exhibitions, including Hong Kong and Singapore, to further promote their resident artists. The consistency of these galleries’ participations is highly dependent on the commercial return, but it nonetheless is an applaudable move. Back in 2009, the NVAG, then led by Director General Datuk Dr Mohamed Najib and its Board, decided to seek MATRADE’s expertise to assist in promoting Malaysian contemporary art overseas. It was not an easy task as art was never a sector focused on for international trade promotion. The move was necessary and important as NVAG was of the opinion that there was no proper department in the government sector designed to promote Malaysian art professionally and efficiently on the international stage. As Malaysian contemporary art was at its very early stages in international
Inside Malaysia & Beyond
Datuk Wong Lai Sum (right), MATRADE CEO, presenting a gift to Cr Ken Ong., Melbourne City Councillor, at the official opening of “Discover Malaysian Art 2014“ in October this year. The gift is a painting by talented autistic Delwin Cheah, 11 years old residing in Malaysia.
recognition and without the backing of the government, it was obviously a very difficult journey for MATRADE to pursue. It was akin to a new Malaysian brand or product with a lot of potential trying to penetrate the international market with limited funds and experience. Considered as a new dimension of Malaysia’s exports, in mid-2013 MATRADE CEO Datuk Dr. Wong decided to take up the challenge to assist the Malaysian contemporary art industry, promoting it as a brand and product of Malaysia. This was done in collaboration with NVAG and has seen Malaysian artworks being promoted in London, Melbourne and Miami. Arts Kuala Lumpur, or Arts KL, the brainchild of MATRADE, is spearheading the push of Malaysian contemporary art into the international art industry by
providing a vital connection between local Malaysian art talents and international art players. This is a move that will eventually prosper the Malaysian art business internationally and benefit generations to come. This year’s ‘Arts KL – Melbourne’ was another exciting presentation of Malaysian art capabilities in the country down under, with a line-up of talented artists ranging from the new and young to the well-known Malaysian artists with a mixed theme of artworks. --
Gold Fish by Ho Khay Beng
Waking Up by Lim Anuar
Some of the works displayed at ‘Discover Malaysian Art 2014’ in Melbourne
Thinking Out Of The Box by Khairul Arshad
Squid In Oil 1 by Haffendi Anuar
African Tribes by Delwin Cheah Inside Malaysia & Beyond
Montsalvat - The Home for Artists WRITES TRINITY CHUA PHOTO COURTESY OF MONTSALVAT
Fancy spending a day enjoying art workshops in a beautiful French provincial estate? Set in 12 acres of gardens, historic buildings and cottages, Monsalvat is a temporal home to many artists from all corners of the world, located right in Eltham only 35 minutes from Melbourne CBD. One can easily spend an afternoon marvelling at the works of the resident artists hard at work in their individual tiny cottages. Some of the artists offer workshops in all kinds of arts and crafts from painting to guitar making. Workshops are run for people of all skill and experience levels, so whether you are a beginner or an established artist, Montsalvatâ€™s vibrant artistic community will have something to offer you. If art isnâ€™t your thing however, you can just as easily spend the afternoon frolicking around the estate, which much resembles a typical French village. There is the Great Hall with wooden tables, polished slate floor and a large fire place. Sometimes, with only the fire illuminating the hall, you can just imagine the place used to be part of a grandiose French Chateau. A short walk from the Hall, you may also take a peek at the blue-stone chapel with its silhouette reflected in a pond of emerald green water. It is simply a beautiful scene to take in. Needless to say, it is
Community & Culture
the perfect spot to go to town with your camera or iPhone- whatever makes you happy! There are also various events including music festivals held around the year, so it can be a good idea to check ahead to see what’s on. And don’t be surprised if you find yourself caught in the middle of a wedding ceremony while you are roaming around the area! Unsurprisingly, Monsalvat is also a popular spot for many couples to say their ‘I do’s. -To learn more about Montsalvat and their upcoming workshops and events, please go to www.montsalvat.com.au
Community & Culture
Red Hong Yi
Changing the Way We See Things Odd socks, melamine chop sticks and coffee stains are the signs that mark an ordinary domestic existence and yet to architect-turned-artist Hong Yi, these very things are some of the inspirational media used for her aweinspiring, story-telling art. Hong Yi, who often goes by her nickname ‘Red’ has risen to fame for her breath taking use of unconventional methods and materials for her artwork. She is well known as the artist who ‘paints without a brush’ and has created numerous mind blowing artworks including a portrait commissioned by Jackie Chan made of 64,000 chopsticks. Her works have been featured by media around the world and viewed by millions on both
Youtube and Youku. She has presented at EG Conference in Monterey, TEDxkl in Malaysia and APEC Young Entrepreneur’s Summit in Beijing, and has also lectured in design universities in Milan. The award winning artist is Sabahan born and is currently based in Melbourne. Type her name into Youtube and you will witness an unparalleled fusion of performance and art that will surely inspire. WRITES Joyce Ng PHOTOGRAPHS LANCE VUN & COURTESY OF HONG YI
â€œThe best thing I have so far as an artist, I guess is that I am really grateful that I have a following audience who appreciate my art and my work.â€?
back and take life one day at a time. People there are really chilled and relaxed. In faster paced cities we always forget to take time to enjoy the simpler things in life. That’s what KK taught me.” Red’s grandparents and father left Shanghai, China in the 60’s during the start of the Cultural Revolution and moved to Malaysia. Her mother is a second generation Sabahan whose parents moved to Malaysia from Guangzhou in the 60’s. Red recalls that her parents were stricter to her than to her two younger brothers. Nevertheless, when they saw her enthusiasm for art, they encouraged her and even taught her sketching and painting. We first encountered Red Hong Yi when she was invited as a special guest at this year’s Fiesta Malaysia, organised by the Malaysian students in Melbourne. Standing amongst the crowd in a simple grey top, there was no sign that she was the star of the show – no one gathering to take a photo or asking for an autograph. Then, when it was time for her to speak on stage, a crowd gathered in anticipation to listen to the featured guest of the event. “Hello everyone!” she greeted the audience with a bright smile. Just like in the numerous videos on the internet, she displayed a pleasant personality and a warm charisma. Her presentation was about her journey as an artist, and she wowed the audience with her artworks displayed on the overhead screen. After her presentation, the line for the photo taking session with Red stretched out to almost 50m with a seemingly endless number of fans wanting to get a photo. Someone even asked her to ‘Facetime’ her mother overseas to ‘meet’ Red there. With over 72,000 followers on Facebook and having been featured in media around the globe, the 28-year-old has experienced an exponential rise in popularity over the past two years.
But whilst her artwork speaks for itself, we wanted to learn a bit more about the Malaysian-born, Melbourne-educated girl that was Hong Yi, or more well known as Red, and she kindly shared with us some of her stories and experiences. The Girl from the Land below the Wind
“Mum can paint very well, she uses her colours very well. When I was colouring a tree [when I was little], my pencil strokes were all over the place...I remember how she taught me to fill in the colours neatly in one direction.”
Red was born in Kota Kinabalu of the ‘Land below the wind’ – Sabah, in East Malaysia. She fondly remembers the beautiful beaches and the blue skies, and how much smaller and slow-paced the city was in comparison to Melbourne and Shanghai.
From an early age Red naturally sought mediums in which to express herself, such as writing and drawing. Today, her parents still have the letters and drawings from when she was a child, expressing herself and even throwing tantrums via the paper medium.
“My hometown has taught me to be laid
“When I was a kid I found it hard
to express myself vocally… so it was sometimes done through writing or drawing.” “This is how I am today as well, I like to create art and share my thoughts with people.” Red took up a five year architecture course at Melbourne University, which she remembers as ‘sleepless nights but the hard work paid off’. She recalls that although she liked art, design and science in general, it was her father from the building industry who encouraged her to take up the course. She became an architect for an internationally established architecture firm, Hassell, where she worked for two years before deciding to go down the path of being a full time artist last year. When asked about her parents’ reception towards her career as an artist, she said: “It took them a while to accept that I was going to take on an unconventional career path, and it took me some time to come to terms that this may mean putting architecture aside, at least for now.” However, as she started receiving potential clients’ requests to perform commissioned art projects, she eventually asked herself, if not now, then when? “It took them a while to have that trust, I guess, but now they are very, very supportive, and I am very thankful. I didn’t think they would be too supportive about it.” An Unexpected Turn After graduating, Red was faced with the choice of whether or not to take a job offer from Australian firm Hassell, in their Shanghai office. She decided to go on a bit of an adventure and what was meant to be a temporary one year stay to experience living in China turned out to be a life turning point for Red. Finding herself new to a foreign country, Red decided to spend her weekends on art – something she loved to do. In a city with the population of Australia, Red listened to various stories of the people living there. She was inspired culturally and emotionally. “It started when I was in Shanghai. I wanted to do arts projects because I was inspired, and I wanted to document my time there, so that I would remember my time there in the future. So instead of journaling, I decided to do art. So I started doing portraits of Chinese people and I wanted to share it with friends.” Rather than simply painting portraits, however, Red decided to try taking an unconventional approach, using objects rather than paints as her medium. Being in China, she was able to buy items in bulk for cheap, which made the idea more attractive. “The first piece I did was Ai Wei Wei, who is a Chinese artist. I bought like seven kilos of sunflower seeds and I
Red’s art often tells a story - the medium she uses often connects to the person, a story or an emotion she seeks to convey.
“Done is better than perfect.” scattered them everywhere. I took photos of it and shared it online and that’s how it started.” Whilst using such unconventional materials was new to Red, her architecture training in Melbourne allowed her to feel comfortable by taking a structured approach to her projects. “When I was a kid, I guess I had always been into crayons, doodling with colour pencils and things like that but it was never physical, never with materials until after I picked it up at school in Melbourne University. That was when I started to make models, play around with textures, design spaces and experiment with materials. So that’s when things changed for me.” The real turning point for Red was her second art piece where she used a basketball, dipped with red paint, to paint a portrait of Yao Ming right after Yao Ming decided to quit NBA. A video of the progress was documented by her
“It’s so much more interesting to see the processes and mistakes rather than a finished, polished end piece.”
friend and posted on YouTube. Originally only sharing with friends, the video gained 50,000 views in just a week after it was noticed by media around the world. Since then, Red has gained a large online following and has been commissioned by numerous high profile companies and personalities including Esquire, Hewlett Packard, and even Jackie Chan. Words of wisdom from the architect-designer-artist Whilst she never expected to become famous, Red described becoming an artist as ‘simple’. “It’s really simple - Just do good work and share it. The hard part about this would be the ‘do good work’ bit. You need to find what works for you, you need to fail and pick yourself again, and this requires persistence, courage and grit. The easy part is the ‘share it’ bit because we have the internet right now. We should put ourselves out there and not feel afraid to share our art...... and art here does not just mean painting - it means ideas, projects, opinions, businesses. I think it’s so much more interesting to see the processes and mistakes rather than a finished, polished end piece.” For aspiring artists, she has the following words of advice. “Do things that you have never done before, take risks and get yourself out there. I think it’s all about taking new risks and pushing yourself. That’s how you grow and that’s how you learn.”
Ever humble, she is also thankful for the support she has received. “The best thing I have so far as an artist, I guess is that I am really grateful that I have a following and an audience who appreciate my art and my work. I think recognition for artists can be quite difficult to achieve,” adding that she didn’t think it would happen that way as she was only sharing her work with friends. Red has recently moved her studio to Melbourne, and she said she will be running in and out of the country but she would love to work in street and mural art in future. At the time of writing she has just returned from a trip with World Vision Australia to Cambodia to visit her sponsored child, Channa, in her effort to “make poverty history”. --
More of her and her work: www.redhongyi.com www.facebook.com/redhongyi www.instagram.com/redhongyi
‘Fill in the Blank’ with Red Hong Yi People usually describe me as… actually a range of things, but I think my closer friends describe me as silly because I don’t like taking myself too seriously sometimes, and I like having fun. My earliest memory about art is… drawing Snuffy and Big Bird from Sesame Street in my kindergarten textbooks. My mother taught me to… cook, because she’s a great cook, but I ended up eating more than I cook. She also taught me to speak up for myself, for what I believe in. She’s quite a fighter and I love her - we’re super good buddies! The most important thing I learned in Melbourne was… to enjoy good coffee and be a bit of a snob about it. Melbourne has the best coffee. People would be surprised to know that… I was quite the tomboy, growing up. My mum tried to put me through ballet classes but one day I was found at a park near my ballet school, covered in mud in my tutu, trying to catch tadpoles in a can! I loved climbing trees and catching bugs. The hardest thing about being an artist is… to choose what projects to do during that amount of time, because I think in art there is a lot of research – at least for me – a lot of planning and there’s only that limited amount of time, and I think always you have things jumping out at you and you want to do a lot of things, so I think it’s about being disciplined and making enough time for a specific project and choosing the right projects.
right to be able to express yourself through whatever way you want to. If I were to paint a portrait of myself, I would use… fingerprints, because that’s my identity, and that’s something that I’m exploring right now. My favourite food is… currently, Korean barbecue. I love that stuff, especially ox tongue. Although I do feel bad about eating meat, but that’s another issue. My motto in life is… to be kind, because everyone is fighting a hard battle. I think that’s a quote by Plato, so that really has stuck with me. Every time I lose patience, I get frustrated, I do try to hold onto that. 20 years from now, I would like to… be with the people I love. If I could, I would… try to eradicate hunger and poverty. There are too many people suffering out there and we can do so much to help. I do want to work on projects to bring awareness to this issue. --
The most surprising thing I learned after completing Yao Ming’s piece was… that it only took three hours to do. I thought it would take a lot longer actually, because a lot of my pieces take up to a week, and Yao Ming’s was really quick and it was fun. I thought it was relatively easy compared to my other pieces. If I could only use one medium to paint for the rest of my life, it would be… coffee! It keeps me awake and sane. To me, love is… coming back home to my dog Chowder, because he is always so welcoming, even if I’ve abandoned him for X amount of time. My greatest passion apart from art is… I really like running and traveling to learn more about different people and cultures. To me, creativity is… the freedom to express yourself. I think everyone should be allowed to be free to be given that space to express themselves. I’ve had people comment on my art sometimes going “You should not say this because it’s too sensitive a topic,”, but I think as an artist, that’s your
Write from the Start Budding author Amy Han always wanted to write Writes Neville de Cruz Photographs Lance Vun
Even from the time she was a little girl, Amy Han had no doubt what she was going to be. “I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t telling everybody I was going to grow up to be an author,” the 29-year-old says. “When I started school I discovered how much I loved to write. I started making ‘`books’’, stapling paper together and copying out my favourite stories. I didn’t know it then, but that is actually an excellent way to get used to the act of writing, and also to learn how stories work.” Amy was born in Wellington, New Zealand, but moved to Australia with her parents – George, an IT project manager, and Yvonne, a lawyer – as a baby. “My dad grew up in Miri, Sarawak. His parents sent him to Wellington to finish high school and attend university, and it was at university that he met my mum. “Mum grew up in Wellington but was born in Hong Kong. After my parents married and had their first child – me - we moved to Melbourne when I was eight months old.” Amy’s artistic streak began to shine through from an early age. “I was a very creative child,” she says. “I remember seeing toy kitchen sets being advertised on TV and, instead of asking my parents to buy me one, going straight to my Dad’s study for cardboard, scissors and tape so I could make it myself. I made myself paper handbags with paper lipsticks and a paper mirror inside. “I also loved to read, to watch Mum read her big crime novels at night, and to listen to Dad’s bedtime stories,
which were all about his childhood; all the mischief he got up to as a little boy growing up in Miri, Sarawak. It all seemed so foreign to me from my home in leafy, suburban, multicultural Doncaster (Melbourne) with my beloved pet cat. “My favourite stories as a child were `Fern Gully’, the Selby series, the `Little Princess’ trilogy, and all of the fairy tales that were made into Disney films.” Amy has so far written and published two novels – “Ru Dreaming” in 2011, and “Breaking Jumps” this year – as well as a collection of short stories and three picture books. “Ru Dreaming is aimed at middle readers and is about a girl named Ru’s first year in high school, and her sense of feeling torn between her oldest best friend and the new friends she is making -- not to mention the boy she has a crush on. “Breaking Jumps is aimed at teenagers and young adults and follows two teenagers -- Jess and Ollie -- as they get to know each other over a dramatic night of parkour, escaping from a gang they become tangled up with, and saving a friend. “The short story collection, ``A Trip to Somewhere Else’’, is an e-book of interlinked stories all alluding to questions about love, life, and what it means to follow your heart. “The three picture books are out of print; they were a special project for which I collaborated with students at Doncaster Primary School -- my old school. The kids illustrated the books. It was fun to see how they interpreted each of the pages.”
In 2012, Amy left a full-time job in marketing to pursue a business idea and dedicate more time to writing. That idea has grown into Creative Write-it!, which aims to inspire and encourage young people through creative writing workshops. “Currently I am still a one-woman show, but I hope to expand soon. I run weekly workshops, visit schools upon request and run holiday programmes. “It has been a huge learning curve but also an incredibly rewarding experience as I continue to shape Creative Write-it! into ‘that thing’ I wished was around when I was a kid.” Amy says she would love to tour the world promoting
her books when she becomes more well-known, and might one day consider a book launch in Miri to honour her Malaysian heritage, but for now she has plenty on her plate with Creative Write-It! and her own writing. “I now have four ideas in the works for new novels, all aimed at kids or young adults. I think a part of me will always be young … let’s hope. “They may not all make it to completion, but it’s an exciting place to be.” -To find out more about her: amyhan.com.au creativewriteit.com.au
The Reel Life Filmmaker and director, Matthew Salleh, is an emerging name in the International Film Festival scene. He may only be second-generation Malaysian but his heritage has certainly rubbed off on his passion for pursuing eclectic elements of culture and capturing them on film. WRITES LIANNE LETITIA ZILM
Filmmaker and director Matthew Salleh is an emerging name in the international film festival scene. He may only be a second-generation Malaysian but his heritage has certainly rubbed off on his passion for pursuing eclectic elements of culture and capturing them on film. Dropping out of Law school to pursue filmmaking, the 30-year-old award-winning cinematographer, editor and director has certainly come a long way from his University days. While studying his Bachelor of Arts at the University of Adelaide, Matthew worked with some of his film-loving buddies in a video store specialising in rare and foreign films. There, a brainchild was born along with many aspirant filming attempts, which led to the beginning of Urtext Films along with his partner in life and business, Rose Tucker. Itâ€™s a classic story of University romance; he and Rose met through mutual friends and her first job was being an extra in one of his films. Over the years she proved her producing prowess and is now running the show on the producing end of the business. Like with most businesses, the early days were a myriad of trial and error. Together with a group of friends, they produced other peopleâ€™s films, ran a magazine along with a multiuse arts centre and studio in the heart of the city. As time went by, their team began to branch out into their own things, so he and Rose reinvented Urtext Films again in 2010 as a boutique film company.
The duo currently operates from their home office in the heart of Adelaide CBD, though they travel so much nowadays that they consider themselves citizens of the world. Matthew credits the advances in technology for the ability to make films with only two people; sometimes tourists have even bigger cameras than they do. The fact that they donâ€™t bring a whole film crew around with them allows them to get more up close and personal with their subjects. Making commercials is their day job and they boast a long list of clients including University of Adelaide, South Australian Tourism Commission, National Pharmacies, Royal Flying Doctor Service, Channel 7 and even Tourism Malaysia. Being a technical person, Matthew shoots and edits his own films, adding a personal touch to every piece of work. He spends about 200 days a year filming commercials, and over the last two years, worked on short documentaries in between. Whether it is for commercials or documentaries, the motivation is the same for Matthew and Rose; they are storytellers and are drawn towards personal, intimate stories. This passion for people led to Portraitmode, their pioneer documentary project, which was also a recipient of the 2011 SA Screen Award for Innovation in Digital Media. This online project features a vignette collection of different everyday personalities talking about everyday things in hopes of creating a portrait of not only individuals, but humanity as a whole.
â€œTo turn filmmaking craft into a full-time profession, you need to be passionate (and) serious when it comes to the commitment, but you also need to have fun with it. You have to love what you do more than the money!â€?
Matt’s love of storytelling may have come from his family’s own historical journey, particularly that of his father, Hassan Salleh. Hassan was born in Johore and his father, who was a Sergeant at the time, saved one of the British General’s daughters who were very ill. That same British General ended up moving to Adelaide and running King’s College (known as Pembroke College today) and as repayment for his life debt, invited Hassan’s dad to send his children over for free education. Hassan moved to Adelaide to study in 1953, making him one of the first Malaysian immigrants in Adelaide; beyond the British boarding house, he was also exposed to farm life and the outback. He married a local Barossa Valley girl and brought his five children up in the eastern suburbs of Adelaide. Not only has Hassan been one of the longest serving Malaysian Honorary Consul (since 1978), but he’s also had a significant impact on the Malaysian international student scene and runs student accommodation facilities. Thanks to his father’s many different cultural affiliations and his half-Malaysian half-Australian heritage, it led to an interesting upbringing for Matthew who strongly identifies with both the Australian and Malaysian community. Matthew has a fascination with culture and his films explore questions like “How do people identify with their own cultures?”, “How does it affect the way they behave?” and “What makes a person Malaysian, Australian, American, etc.?” When asked about his favourite film, Matt shakes his head and says it’s like picking your favourite child. Though he has loved all his films, Pablo’s Villa does hold special meaning as it was one where he and Rose really found their voice. They had read an article on the internet about a man living in the ruins of Villa Epecuén, Argentina, but found few details about it. So, they emailed someone in the town next to it in hopes of finding someone to take them there. The only woman in that town who could speak English responded, told them to get on a bus and picked them up from the bus station to meet Pablo. After three to four days of filming, they knew that they had bagged a winner. Pablo’s Villa was nominated for 13 film festivals and won the Atom Award for Best Documentary Short Form. Matthew’s documentary nominated for this year’s film festival, Central Texas Barbecue, was actually filmed when they were on the way home from attending the Slamdance Film Festival. This film is not just conventional barbies we have in a park on Australia Day; we’re talking about huge smokehouses the size of airport hangars offering close to every type of meat you can get under the sun. If you think the idea is bizarre, the stories you will hear will be even more intriguing – from ex-marines returning home to visions from God, this film captures the true spirit behind the spit.
Matthew Salleh, Rose Tucker and his family at the Sydney Film Festival. His father, Datuk Hassan Salleh (left) was the former Honorary Consul of Malaysia to South Australia. conservative and trying to make that first film perfect, Matthew urges budding filmmakers to just take out their cameras and make films – the more practice you can get, the better! But most importantly, take some time to work out your voice and find the right audience for your films. The plan for Urtext Films is to expand it through smaller films without deviating away from their intimate style. There is talk of working with another producer for their first feature documentary funded by international broadcasters, but there may be a long road ahead yet. He has yet to film a documentary in Malaysia, but if given the opportunity, it would likely be something to do with the intersection of Malay, Chinese and Indian cultures. Also, he has a loose concept of doing a documentary about different barbecue cultures, in which the old satay man on the side of the road would probably be involved. “What did your dad have to say after you dropped out of Law school to pursue filmmaking?” Matthew laughs and says that despite his father’s strong support of his decision, he was sure that Hassan was secretly scared for his son’s future. But now, his parents can rest easy knowing that Matthew is able to earn his keep and even invites them along to red carpet events. -You can also view their works at www.urtextfilms.com.au
Matthew’s road to stardom was paved with perseverance and a lot of self-searching. Rather than being too
Photo: Zachary Korb
Property Developments & Taxes BY S.E.A ACCOUNTANTS
Property market booms, popular home renovation TV shows and the current low costs of borrowing have all made property development an attractive option to investors, many of whom have made their fortune and are continually investing in the property market. There are more people attending property investment seminars than ever before, making this the era of property investment and where there are fortunes being made, the Australian Tax Office will certainly want to be in on the action. In fact, the ATO has issued its annual compliance notice for 2014/15 and property transactions/development is under the radar. There are a number of tax implications such as income tax and GST that investors should be aware of and in order to avoid tax bill shocks, accountants should be counted in the process of project planning as these tax bills are part of the equation of the bottom line profit. Property development activity can generally be classified into the following three categories and each has its own tax implications: 1. Personal investor: If you are not in the business of property development such as being a builder, minor renovations such as cosmetic and small improvements to your investment property or your own home which may add to the profit
Down to Business
generally do not produce major tax issues, as you are simply realising a capital asset. Costs of the renovation will be included in the cost base of rental property and a 50% capital gain discount will be available if the rental property was held for more than 12 months. Generally there are no GST implications for personal investors. In the case of your own home, main residence exemption is also available. 2.
the business income for the period from development commencement date to selling date that is not qualified for 50% capital gains discount. GST implications will be similar to profit undertaking categories as outlined above. Property development is a complex tax area itself, especially in the case of changing intention such as from renting to selling or vice versa, and this article does not intend to cover all scenarios and all tax laws. Each development has its own characteristics that make it different to others. It is suggested that you should involve your accountant and tax advisor to the planning process to avoid unnecessary tax bill shocks and cash flow issues during and after construction.
If you are not in the business of property development but your property renovation activities were planned, organised and carried on in a business-like manner such as land subdivision, engaging architect, town planner and builders, it is more likely that you enter into a one-off profit-making activity. Profit made from the project will be treated as normal business income, in other words 50% capital gain discount will not be available.
The information provided is for general information If you develop your rental property by demolishing it, purposes only and should not be substituted for subdividing and building new properties, there will be a professional advice. change in intention from investing to profit undertaking, and gains from purchase date of original property to To learn more about SEA Accountants please go to development commencement date will be subject to www.seaaccountants.com.au capital gains tax, however the 50% capital gain discount is available if the property was held more than 12 months. Gains from development commencement date to selling date however, will be treated as normal business income which means no 50% Each development has capital gains discount is available.
its own characteristics that make it different to others.
If you build a new residential premises for sale, you can claim GST credits for the construction and any purchases you make related to the sale of the premises (subject to the normal rules on GST credits), however you are liable for GST on the sale. GST on the margin scheme can also be applicable. 3.
In the business of building and construction:
Applicable to those who are actively and consistently buying, developing and selling new or old properties. Properties or land held just before development commences will treated as trading stock and the taxpayer can elect either cost method or market value method for tax calculation. If market value method is adopted, capital gain tax event K4 will trigger which means there can be capital gains tax assessable even though the property has not been sold, and this can cause some major cash flow issues. However if there is a significant increase in market value for the period from holding to development commencement date, it is advantageous to adopt the market value method because 50% capital gain discount is available to the period from holding the property to development commencement date, and the cost base is then adjusted to the market value which can reduce
Down to Business
Auctioneer Andrew Stuart working the crowd in Prahran where I assisted a client who wants to remain anonymous to bid at the auction. An auction campaign is a great marketing tool for the real estate agent and the agency.
WRITES ERICK NG
Why Do Real Estate Agents Sell Property via Auctions? “Erick, I don’t want to buy the properties that are listed for sale at auctions,” said a client of mine who is new to the Melbourne property market. “After observing a couple of auctions, I think it is a farce and a waste of time.”
Erick Ng is a licensed property buyer’s advocate at Capital Exchange International. He exclusively represents homebuyers and investors to master plan, search, evaluate and negotiate the purchase of their properties. Trained in architecture, construction and real estate, Erick’s client base ranges from first home buyers/investors to property developers and government officials. Erick was featured on Channel 9’s prime time show ‘Hot Property’ and 3CW Chinese Radio Station. He can be contacted via email@example.com.
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Due to being unfamiliar to buying at auctions, this could be a waste of time for buyers who have time and resources constraint. After all, in most parts of the world, buying properties at auctions is not the mainstream method. In some countries, property auctions are generally used in foreclosures and it is uncommon. Hence, I usually get a surprised look when I tell my non-local clients that auction is the main selling method for established properties in Melbourne, in particular the inner city and much of the Eastern suburbs. In many suburbs, as much as nine out of ten properties are listed for sale via auctions. It may be unwise to skip auction properties, as Melbourne is the auction capital of Australia, if not the world. We can work the auction system once we know how it works.
Do Auctions Always Fetch a Higher Price? Many people, including many vendors and buyers, are conditioned to think that the reason an auction campaign is popular is because it can fetch the highest price. In fact, many real estate agents would tell you exactly that. In reality, that is not necessarily the case. It depends on many factors such as the property type and location, the real estate market cycle, supply and demand ratio, the vendor’s expectation, the skill of the auctioneer, the bidding skills of the buyers, the quality of the marketing campaign, competition from similar properties at the same auction time or day, the teamwork of the agency and so on and so forth. Why Do Agents Use Auctions? If an auction may not necessarily produce the highest price for the vendor, why are many real estate agents insisting on using the auction campaign? One of the main reasons the real estate agent prefers the auction method is that it is an unconditional sale. This way, the vendor has the control to set the terms and conditions. The buyer cannot escape the contract with clauses such as ‘subject to finance’ or ‘subject to building and pest inspections’. In a hot property listing, it is almost impossible for the buyer to negotiate the terms and conditions, as there is no lack of buyers. Some real estate industry insiders claim that selling via an auction campaign requires less skill compared to a private sale campaign. While this is debatable depending on who you speak to, many newer agents who lack the experience and skill in negotiating with buyers thrive at auction campaigns. An auction campaign may be able to hide their shortcomings, as they are not required to negotiate much, if at all. Also, it does not have to rely on the agent’s preexisting buyer list, which newcomers will not have yet. Most of the work of selling is done via the marketing materials and the auctioneer. Why Do Some Agents Refuse Pre Auction Offers? Some buyers do not like to buy at the auction because of its unpredictable nature. This usually makes the buyers anxious and often very emotional, a condition that may provide the perfect opportunity for the auctioneer to manipulate the outcome to his advantage. Many inexperienced bidders get caught up in the auction frenzy. Some may even break down and cry, while I have also witnessed heated arguments between spouses taking place at auctions. Many buyers just want to get the buying process over and done with so they may choose to make an offer prior to the auction day. Some agents may take your pre-auction offer, insisting that your offer has to be unconditional. Otherwise they will not accept it. This happens very frequent especially during a hot market. Other agents may refuse your pre auction offer outright, citing reasons such as that they are under instruction by the vendor to sell at the auction only, or there are a few decision makers hence the vendors will only
accept the price from a ‘transparent’ auction process. Are these reasons genuine? To understand this, we must understand how real estate agents work. Most real estate agents work independently. While a few agents have a buddy system to share the commissions, most are considered ‘every man for himself’. Sales commissions are divided between the listing agent and the selling agent. Sometimes, there is also a managing agent. The commission pie could be shared by all three different agents, or it could be the same agent. For obvious reasons, the agent would like to get all three commissions instead of just one. Although we often see advertising slogans such as “our multi-office team will get you the best price” or “we have the most extensive network of agents to find you a buyer”, the reality is that most agents work as an independent business within a larger real estate business rather than a cohesive team. When you walk into the backend of some of the real estate agencies, you may be able to feel the competitive tension between the agents and at times, the stress from having to meet sales quota for the month. An auction campaign usually comes with a four-week marketing campaign to drum up the amount of interest. During this time, the agent gets to meet many potential buyers, who may eventually become sellers. Lengthening the campaign is a great way for the agent to get to know more people who are potential sellers, and for some, more time to condition the vendor’s price down. This is especially applicable for agents who are still building their business but not so much for veteran agents. Another good reason for agents to reject a pre auction offer is due to the publicity an auction campaign could generate for the real estate agent and the agency brand. To achieve a successful auction campaign, extensive advertising is crucial to ensure all potential buyers are present on the auction day. The advertising cost is usually paid on top of the agent’s commissions regardless of whether the property is sold or not. Some agents may promote a more comprehensive, often more costly advertising package, making this a superb opportunity to market the agent and the agency to the masses courtesy of the vendor’s advertising fees. It is effectively free advertising for them. The more the name of the agent and the agency are seen, the more likely they will get calls for more new business. In many situations, cutting short the auction sale campaign and accepting a pre auction offer will do more harm than good to the agent and the agency. If you understand the dynamics of the interests at play, you as a buyer will be able to navigate through the auction campaigns better. There is always the options of getting a friend who is familiar with the auction process to help, or get professional assistance from a buyer’s advocate who can create an advantage for you over other buyers at auctions. --
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Merdeka Gala Dinner & Awards Presentation “Di sini lahirnya sebuah cinta“ (Here, Where Love Begins) WRITES & PHOTOGRAPHS JOSH YU
Resonating with the theme of the 57th Merdeka (Malaysian Independence Day) this year, Australia Malaysia Business Council’s South Australia chapter (AMBC South Australia) once again hosted its annual Merdeka Awards gala dinner on August 23 this year. Held for the 16th consecutive year, the Awards this year was again a fantastic night for those attending. More than just a business networking dinner however, this annual event celebrates the achievements of Malaysian university students studying in South Australia. This year’s prestigious dinner was attended by over 250 guests, including members of Adelaide’s business community, students and dignitaries. Distinguished guests included the Honourable Mr Martin Hamilton-Smith, Minister for Trade and Investment, H.E. Sir Eric Neal, the patron of Merdeka Awards and namesake of the first place Sir Eric Neal Award, H.E. The Honourable Hieu Van Le AO, Governor of South Australia, the Right Honourable Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood, Lord Mayor of the City of Adelaide, Datuk Hassan Salleh, former Honorary Consul to South Australia and Senator Jing Le. For the third time in a row, this year’s winners were again an outstanding trio of young Malaysian women, each excelling in their respective fields of study and voluntary work. Kuching-born Fiona Low Pei Tse (middle in top left picture) took out the top prize, winning the Sir Eric Neal Award. Apart from excelling in her studies, she is involved heavily as a speech pathology volunteer at an Aboriginal School and in helping the communication status of indigenous children in remote Australia. Beyond recognition and monetary award, the winners were invited to a lunch and
tour at Parliament House by Senator Jing Lee. They were also each sponsored to attend the Graduan career fair in Melbourne, organised by TalentCorp. Apart from celebrating Malaysian achievements, the night was also an effort to raise awareness and funds for South Australiaâ€™s Royal Society for the Blind, with part proceeds from the dinner going to help provide guide dogs for the blind. Fittingly, entertainment was provided by the sweet vocals of Rachael Leahcar, who was second runner-up in the first season of The Voice Australia, and has since gone on to achieving an impressive musical career despite being blind since a young age. At the dinner, Hamilton-Smith said the awards and the Merdeka anniversary celebrations demonstrated strong collaboration between private and public organisations by creating ambassadors capable of forging future linkages between Malaysia and South Australia. Mr Sathish Dasan, President of the Australia Malaysia Business Council, attributed the success of the annual event to generous patrons and corporate sponsors. AMBC South Australia hopes that the Merdeka Awards will eventually become anational level event with awards held in each state in Australia. --
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NECESSITY, THE MOTHER OF DIY RESTORATION WRITES ANNIE HARIHARAN
When Khai Wong and his wife, Eunice Chow, showed me around their beautiful home in Prahan – complete with picket fences skirting the unit, plantation blinds for the windows and an outdoor deck – it was hard to imagine that Khai almost single- handedly restored it from its once dilapidated state. “We bought this place in an auction in 2009 for a good price because the house was literally a crack den,” Khai said. “I don’t know what the previous owners did here because it was not in livable condition at al!l” “The walkway and floorboard had cracks, the paint was peeling and the bathroom was so small that a pregnant woman would struggle to fit inside.”
The couple started out making minor changes to the house like giving it a basic coat of paint. Then they moved in. After that they discussed changes that suited their personal tastes like breaking down the walls to create an open kitchen, and changing the red brick fence outside to the more appealing white picket fence.
“The cost of labour in Australia is very high, unlike in Malaysia,” he said. “When I realised how much it would cost to renovate the house, I decided I would do it myself.” It was a very bold proclamation. Even Eunice was skeptical about her husband’s ability given that his best attempts at renovation and hard labour only extended a very strong to assembling flat-packed IKEA furniture.
Australia has DIY culture and people take interest and pride in completing a task on their own.
They aren’t exaggerating. When they showed me the before and after photos of the house, I couldn’t believe how much work went into treating, improving and restoring it. So how did they do it and on their own?
However they were not prepared for the exorbitant cost quoted by tradesmen, which was twice or three times than the cost of raw material. That was when Khai, a business consultant, decided to take matters into his own hands.
Still, Khai persevered by researching renovation tips online and using the old-fashioned trial- and-error method. One of the first things he did was to change the brick fence to white picket fence which was more suitable for the house given its art deco design and the neighbourhood’s aesthetics. Now, building a fence from scratch can be time consuming and requires an arsenal of woodworking tools. Also, the hardest part of any fence installation is digging the postholes. The level of difficulty depends on the fence length and soil hardness. Khai set out digging the postholes using a jackhammer that he borrowed but there
were instances where more manual labour was needed. “As luck would have it, the neighbuorhood’s main water pipe ran through the property,” he recalled. “So, I couldn’t use the jack hammer all the way because the pipe would have burst on impact.” “Instead, I had to manually scoop out the soil with a spoon to install the postholes, almost like Tim Robbins in Shawshank Redemption digging his way to freedom!” Once that was completed and he gained some confidence, Khai tackled the bathroom. Since he and Eunice were already living in the house, she made it clear that he could only begin renovations while she was away in Malaysia. As she explained, “We only have one bathroom and toilet, so if what would I do if it’s unusable? Khai could use the backyard garden and shower at bathroom in the petrol station.”
host barbecues. He has also amassed an impressive range of tools. When Khai first got started, he only owned a drill. Now he’s the proud owner of a jackhammer and not one but two nail guns. When asked why someone needed two, he earnestly explained that one was for framing and the other for finishing. It was at this was the point that I realised just how experienced and informed he was and why his friends value his opinion when they embark on large scale home renovation projects. Khai attributed his newfound interest and capability to living in Australia. e and Chloe “Australia has a very strong DIY culture and people take interest and pride in completing a task on their own,” he said. “Just go to Bunnings on a Sunday and you will see what I mean – hundreds of people buying tools, getting advice or looking at paint for their various projects.”
To Khai’s credit, he completed the renovations with the help of a plumber by the time Eunice returned. This was the only external assistance he had had throughout the whole time and only because it required a professional. Their new bathroom is more spacious after Khai broke down the wall between the bathroom and the laundry area.
“I never had to learn about carpentry or home renovation when I was living in Malaysia because it wasn’t expensive to hire someone. But after living here, I had to push myself to learn or else it would have been too expensive.”
He has since completed more renovations in the house like the impressive wooden deck in the backyard where they
At the rate Khai is going, he and Elaine could well be shooin for the Australian reality show, The Block!
Melbourne Artists’ Market Melbourne’s markets are at the top of any visitor’s list when they arrive at our beautiful and multicultural city but it’s limited to the usual and prominent food markets that locals and visitors flock to on the weekends. Food aside, Melbourne has a vibrant arts culture and lifestyle so it’s no wonder why artist markets around the city are on the rise. Our list of artist markets will inspire the inner artist in some and also offer a whole new take on the new face of Melbourne’s popular markets, making it a perfect not-so-lazy weekend. WRITES MICHAELA SWAMPILLAI
Photo source: Weekend Notes
Rose St Artist’s Market
60 Rose Street, Fitzroy Opening hours: Sat & Sun 11am-5pm
1 St Heliers Street, Abbotsford Opening times: Sun 10am-4pm
Melbourne’s emerging artists and those who love art and design would have been here at one point or another. Located in the hip and upbeat Fitzroy, the Rose St. Artist’s Market is home to the best art and design talent in Melbourne, with classics ranging from fashion, jewellery, accessories to modern art such as photography, vintage stand-outs and homewares. Everything you find here is 100% handmade and the market stands behind this strongly, celebrating their 10th year of showcasing the locals’ beautiful and original items.
Maker’s Market is an artisan market located in the beautiful and thriving gardens of Abbotsford, just 15 minutes from the CBD. It’s a non-profit organisation that supports and showcases handmade designs, photography, toys, sculptures, glass and much more. The area is also filled with workspaces, studios, and galleries, which makes it much more than your average artist market. Coupled with a selection of excellent eateries, the Maker’s Market is an exciting destination for artists who call Melbourne home.
The Rose St. Artist’s Market is set in a former junkyard so it retains the personality and vibe of the heart of Fitzroy. The market boasts up to 70 emerging and already established local artists and designers. To top it all off there is also a diner and a rooftop bar as well as a grand view- another reason why Melburnians call the Rose Street Market the home of art and design.
50 | Styling Life
The market is held on the third Sunday of every month in the main Convent building at the Abbotsford Convent. Just outside the Convent building is the Shirt and Skirt Market, a place for emerging fashion designers to promote and showcase their talent to the public. Enjoy a two-in-one experience at the stunning Abbotsford gardens.
Photo source: Bend and Snap Market
Photo source: Urban Walkabout
Bend and Snap Market
361 Lt Lonsdale St, Melbourne Opening hours: Sunday 11am-4pm
321 Smith Street, Fitzroy Opening hours: Tues 11am-5pm Wed – sat 11am-6pm Sun 12pm-4pm
Held on the last Sunday of each month, Bend and Snap is an indoor design and art market in the heart of Melbourne. Browse through the beautiful creations made intricately by illustrators, fashion designers, jewellers and textile artists who together develop a more sophisticated kind of art and design. Apart from the usual goodies found here, the market also has a knack for surprising visitors with a special treat every month. During winter, Bend and Snap is featuring a winter warmer wish list including traditional homemade shortbread and cookies, and a selection of tropical island canvases that will make you want to relive summer again. The innovative ‘Crafternoon Corner’ offers visitors at the Bend and Snap market a chance to get creative and design their own craftwork. Here, kids can be free and get their hands gluey too so get your weekend sorted with a trip to the Bend and Snap Market.
In.cube8tr (pronounced in-cu-bay-tor-) is by far the most unique of artist markets in Melbourne. Set in a cosy retailer in Fitzroy, the gallery is divided up into glass cubicles on the display shelf with each cube representing an artist distinctively, and showing their unique style. The artworks and designs across the gallery mainly consist of vintage and handmade jewellery, but there are also handmade cards, craftworks, glass, home furnishings, and much more. This futuristic concept was originally established in 2007 by owner of in.cube8r, Isy Galey, whose dream was to develop a “one-stop shop” for designs by and for Australian artists. Now, the gallery is home to more than 90 of the top artists and crafters in Australia. The way in.cube8r works is by an artist renting a cube to display their artwork and the shopkeeper promoting and selling their creations. All profits go to the artist so all parties are in a win-win situation- even the customers who get to experience a gallery like no other. The artists and crafters leave behind their personal card in their cubes for customers to get in contact with them if their interested in more of their designs.
Easy and Delicious Recipe: Durian Kaya Ingredients
Mashed durian, 4-5 pulps Palm sugar (you may use brown sugar as substitute), about 200-300 gram Pandan leaves, 1 or 2 pieces Coconut Milk, 200 gram Wheat flour (for thickening purpose), 2 tablespoon Water, 2 cups Sugar, 1 cup Pinch of salt Laksa Stock
Instruction 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.
In a pot, add the palm sugar, pandan leaves and water and bring to boil. In a different pot, melt sugar and sautĂŠ until cameralised. You may put extra pandan leaves in the sugar for extra fragrance. Once sugar is caramelized, pour in palm sugar mixture (without pandan leaves). Stir to combine. Add mashed durian and stir to combine. Add salt and sugar. Add coconut milk. Lower heat. Add wheat flour, stir. Done! :D
Best served with steamed or toasted bread, roti jala or nasi pulut :D Enjoy!
52 | Styling Life
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Top Five Melbourne Coffees
WRITES MEL ANIE LYNN REPUBLISHED FROM WEEKEND NOTES
No matter how broke you are, most people can scrape together enough money for a coffee. When you think about it, it’s rather ironic that most things rise in price as the quality increases, but from the freshly roasted top-notch beans, to the sad instant cup at your local servo the price discrepancy of a coffee is minimal. The beauty of this is, you can go to the fanciest café in town, and the most you’ll ever pay is $4 for a small coffee. In light of this epiphany, I see no reason why anyone should be having mediocre coffee when they could be having the best in Melbourne for the same price. I have compiled a list of 5 of the best ‘bang for your buck coffees’. Seven seeds Voted Melbourne’s #1 coffee by The Age Good Cafe Guide (and for good reason) in 2012, Seven Seeds roasts their own fabulous beans at their warehouse café, which results in a tasty little blend sure to satisfy the fussiest of palates. The decorating style you can expect is a blend of old verses new with plenty of individualised flair. Small coffee: $3.70
Lawson Grove Shop If you like finding thrilling hide-away places to meander, then Lawson Grove is the place for you. You’ll find this little darling tucked away in the suburban streets of South Yarra. With buckets of old school charm, there are also a variety of small-goods to be purchased. Be warned though, don’t come expecting a cheap meal. The food here is all high class with the price tag to match. Lawson Grove serve Gravity Coffee, but it’s more than likely the unique décor and private location that will have you rushing back for your second visit. Small Coffee: $3.50 The Final Step This funky nook has a real earth-roots, organic hippy vibe going for it. The Final Step is a tiny space that has somehow managed to include an old piano as part of their furnishings. Using Seven Seeds as their coffee of choice, it’s hard to go wrong, but good coffee is nothing without a great barista, and the guys at The Final Step will definitely not disappoint you. On display in the centre of the room, there is a titillating selection of sweets you can savour, which come from a wholesale baking business called Caaaake!. Small Coffee: $4.00. Auction Rooms This self roasting café has been buzzing with people every time I have visited. It’s not surprising the masses condense here, considering the quality coffee you can expect every time without fail. There is also a variety of specialty coffee up for grabs if you feel like trying something new. Small Coffee: $4.00
Omar & The Marvellous Coffee Bird A personal favourite of mine, Omar’s serve a marvellous, almost chocolaty brew, that once you have tasted, won’t be your last. With unmatched in-store magnetism, you will experience more than just great coffee. Omar & The Marvellous Coffee Bird provides a memorable experience and will awaken the child in the crustiest old Scrooge. Small Coffee: $4.00
54 | Styling Life
Original article can be viewed at www.weekendnotes.com/ top-5-melbourne-coffees. Prices listed above have been updated by JOM in October 2014.
BY JULIAN LEE
Julian CH Lee is the author of two books and is a lecturer in International Studies at RMIT University.
‘Does it take the fireworks to make you look in wonder?’ - from the song Splinter by the Sneaker Pimps (1999) I recall listening to a Buddhist monk tell his small congregation about a particular character in Buddhist history who had donated significantly to the general upkeep of a particular set of monks. I’ve forgotten the details, but I have not forgotten the point the monk was making. Through this story he was making a gentle criticism of his congregation - not that they weren’t generous enough, but that their generosity was too much directed at particular projects: the building of some structure, the acquisition of some item. People were willing to donate for something new and shiny, but overlooked the importance of the things that enabled the day-to-day running of the institution that they were building.
I’ve never felt fully comfortable with the ‘ice-bucket challenge’. It was quite some time before I realised that it was for a cause at all. While support for motor neurone disease (MND) research is a very worthy cause, I was also given pause for thought about a few things. First - that it takes a spectacle to draw people’s attention to something worthwhile. Second - that people’s contributions of money and their attention is being guided not by the intrinsic value of the cause but because of some celebrity sideshow. Third - that someone issued an ice-bucket challenge has only two choices, to have cold water thrown on them or to donate $100. I’m not comfortable with something phrased in terms of an ultimatum. Like a banquet held to raise funds for poverty, the icebucket seems also like a demonstration of the privilege of some people that they can waste drinkable water. I was pleased to see Matt Damon use the opportunity to drench himself in cold water taken from his toilet to also raise awareness of the fact that for many people around the world, their drinking water is less sanitary than most ‘first world’ people’s toilet water. So, the question we need to ask ourselves is, ’What does it say about our society that an amusement like the icebucket is what is needed to make us pay attention?’
Those wishing to show their support for research into MND might like to know that since 2004, MND Victoria has held an annual ‘Walk to D’Feet MND’. This year it occurs at 10am on Sunday 16 November in Princess Park, Carlton North, Victoria. For more information, see www.mycause. com.au/events/walktodfeetmndmelbourne
Talk, Think, Laugh
Musings for Malaysia ENLIGHTENMENT: A JOURNEY WITHOUT AN END The vaunted Irish singer and songwriter Van Morrison wrote in one of his songs: “Every second, every minute, It keeps changing to something different, Enlightenment, don’t know what it is.”
In its more mundane forms, we get enlightenment from many sources. Some of my most spiritually moving experiences of enlightenment have come from an unexpected place: a cemetery. Every time I’m back in Malaysia, I make it a point to visit my maternal grandparents’ burial place. (The fact that I’ve never been to my paternal grandparents’ cemetery – which, I’ve been told, is not far away – is not a sign of prejudice; it’s merely due to lack of detailed information about the location.) The Christian cemetery in which their remains lie is not far away from their hometown of Parit Kassim – a small, rural town close to the western coast of Johor – and is surrounded by jungle and palm oil plantations: a landscape common in southern Malaysia. I habitually go there with flowers, and a cloth and water to showcase my cleaning skills. At any time, the place has an eerie ambience: silence except for the shrill of insects. A neutral observer might wonder what advantage I get from spending the time I do – above and beyond the time it takes to pay respect to one’s forebears – in the piercing hot sun and the high humidity.
WRITES DENISE OH
56 | Talk, Think, Laugh
They can’t be expected to know that I’m in my element when the mercury is above 30 degrees and it’s the hottest time of the day. Perhaps I was a salamander in a previous existence.
The most salient insight I get every time I’m at the cemetery is not so much a thought as an emotion. It’s a feeling of gratitude: for having had the opportunity to pursue formal education and also for having the capacity and motivation to engage in continuous learning. My grandparents (on both sides) never had the good fortune to be educated beyond primary school; each had to start working at a young age – often out in the field – in order to support growing – and eventually, very large – families. They had limited access to books.
initiative are becoming marks of this age. Our aspirations are often limited to material comfort and luxury. In my grandparents’ day, life held danger, discomfort and challenge, all of which put piquancy and exhilaration into life. Overcoming obstacles with limited resources required high-level, innate problem solving skills, creative thinking and tenacity. It could be argued that my grandparents – and people from their era – were more resilient, more resourceful and more intelligent than many of us who have been to university.
Knowledge was acquired ad hoc: you learned by doing and on an ‘as needed’ basis.
No matter how many degrees I have, my ancestors’ legacy to me will endure: a recognition that life is about not running away from challenges; rather, it is about seeking and embracing change, taking a heuristic and holistic approach to problem solving, having passion in your undertakings, and respecting traditions.
We modern Malaysians tend to have an almost pathological need to have our worth validated based on the education we’ve received. Families place a premium on higher education, often going without in order to send their children to university. The practice is praiseworthy, but it has some unintended consequences. For every person who has been to university, there are probably ten who haven’t. Those ten (and their families) are at risk of being labelled ‘too poor’, ‘too lazy’, ‘not smart enough’ and so on. Intelligence is often equated with being no more than ‘book smart’. While higher education undoubtedly leads to greater work choices in the 21st Century, it’s important to recognise that it’s a means to an end, rather than an end in itself. Moreover, it’s not a refined measure of intelligence; and a lot of people who don’t have higher education lead successful and fulfilling lives regardless of their apparent lack of intelligence. Higher education does not make a person a higher class of person, some sort of superior ‘touchable’. Lethargy, self-indulgence and lack of courage and
When I visit their cemetery again I will no doubt sit on their tomb, under the hot sun, and engage in some introspection. I hope to also make my first visit to my paternal grandparents’ place of burial. The challenge will be to find the place and their headstones. Foresight tells me that I’m in for a memorable experience. I hope, if they were alive, my ancestors would be proud of me: a person given more educational opportunities than they had, but inspired by them to treat life itself as the greatest educational experience. Enlightenment: do I know what it means? Not yet … Denise Oh, who did her Ph. D. at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia, is an expert in knowledge management and strategic planning. You can contact her at <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Talk, Think, Laugh
Where to get JOM We are often asked where hardcopies of JOM can be found. For your convenience, here is the list of places where you can get a copy of JOM Magazine! (Unless they have run out!) Melbourne CBD and City Fringe Consulate General of Malaysia, Melbourne (432 St Kilda Road, Melbourne) Malaysia Hall (4K High Street, Windsor) Hometown Grocery (440 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne) Laguna Asian Grocery (QV Melbourne) Papparich (QV Melbourne) Blackball (8/206 Bourke Street, Melbourne) Petaling Street Restaurant (188 Little Bourke St) Sugar Bun/ Nanyang Bak Kut Teh (205 Russell Street, Melbourne) Chilli Padi, Melbourne Central Secret Recipe, Melbourne Central Café Crema (488 Swanston Street, Melbourne) Yahweh Asian Grocery (594-600 Swanston Street, Carlton) Norsiah’s Kitchen (604 Swanston Street, Carlton) Chilli Padi, Flemington (295 Racecourse Rd, Kensington) Chef Lagenda (16 Pin Oak Crescent, Flemington) Laksa King (6-12 Pin Oak Crescent, Flemington) Wonder Cafe at Tune Hotels (609 Swanston St, Carlton) LuxBite (38 Toorak Rd, South Yarra) Sydney PappaRich Chatswood (1/63A Archer Street, Chatswood) PappaRich Broadway (185 Broadway, Ultimo) Malaysia Silverfish Books (28 Jalan Telawi, Bangsar Baru, Kuala Lumpur)
Melbourne Suburbs China Bar Signature, Burwood (380 Burwood Highway, Burwood East) PappaRich (Chadstone Shopping Centre) PappaRich (540 Doncaster Road, Doncaster) Best Asian Grocery (Kingsway, Glen Waverley) Yeoh Enterprise Asian Groceries (1306 High Street Road, Wantirna South) Grand Tofu (5/53 Kingsway, Glen Waverley) Kampung Story (Ste45/300 Point Cook Road, Point Cook) Asian Supermarket (Point Cook) Hong Kong Asian Grocery, Clayton (367 Clayton Road, Clayton) Circle K Asian Groceries (High St, Doncaster) Jackson Corner Store (Jackson Crt, Doncaster East) Mihub Cafe (12 Synott St, Werribee) Mitcham Post Office (Mitcham Road, Mitcham) Rasa Malaya (272 Blackburn Road, Doncaster) Tai Pan Restaurant (Blackburn Road, Doncaster) Badminton Connect (13 Duerdin St, Clayton) Yeoh’s Enterprise (High St, Knox)
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JOYS OF MALAYSIANS
1 YEAR OLD Special Edition
ISSN 2201 - 3016
9 772201 301002
ISSUE 06 AUG/SEPT 2013
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11th edition of JOM featuring young, talented and unconventional artist Red Hong Yi, and stories surrounding the theme of Art. JOM Magazine...
Published on Oct 10, 2014
11th edition of JOM featuring young, talented and unconventional artist Red Hong Yi, and stories surrounding the theme of Art. JOM Magazine...